Birds, bluefish, bass and bonito, it’s a mixed bag

Bob Jacobs holds the bounty of a July nighttime fishing trip to Chappy, a 10 pound bluefish. — Photo by John Piekos

Typically, fishermen refer to this time of the season as the summer doldrums. The heat and humidity makes the fish, or is it the fishermen, lethargic and lazy. But reports from around the Island describe a mixed bag.

At Coop’s, the report varied by species. Cooper “Coop” Gilkes had fished Norton Point beach one night earlier and reported bluefish mixed with a few striped bass. But what really got his attention, he said, were the more than 30 commercial draggers visible just offshore.

Coop did not know what the boats were targeting but the sheer number has him worried. He said in addition to the boats he saw off Wasque he could see lights from more boats stretching to the west. “There’s not going to be a fish left,” he said.

I am told the Division of Marine Fisheries allows the boats to squid fish small mesh 24/7 up to the shoreline south of the islands from Nomans east to Nantucket’s southeast corner.

Bluefish are hit or miss on Chappy. Lobsterville, a favorite of striper fishermen, is slow but there are fish in Menemsha channel, he said.

Coop said he has had some reports of bonito. The tasty mini-tuna have been caught at the hooter off Wasque, off Gay Head, and off Menemsha by a kayaker. What these multiple sightings portend for the months ahead is unclear. It could be a brief foray or a sign that bonito are about to take up residence around the Island.

In recent years, inshore fishing for bonito has been pretty hit or miss, and shore fishing has been almost nonexistent. Coop said there has been no pattern. “Nothing really solid,” he said.

At Larry’s, owner Steve Purcell described a very mixed bag. He said the boat bass fishing had slowed but the shore guys were doing well up Island. On Chappy, he said, blues come in and then go away for a day. The exciting news was a bonito caught off Cape Poge gut from shore.

And the solid news he said continues to be the strong bottom fishing for fluke and scup. a favorite activity for kids. Offshore, he said football-sized tuna are within striking distance.

At Dick’s, Steve Morris said the new Oak Bluffs fishing pier is getting good use. He said scup fishermen are doing best in the morning and evening. It is a good season for scup with some monsters being caught. “Definitely, scup are in,” Steve said.

Offshore, small tuna are at the Owl and inside the Fingers. Steve plans to fish in the Oak Bluffs Bluewater Classic, a big game fishing tournament that will make its inaugural run this week, from Wednesday, July 24, through Saturday, July 26.
Check out the weigh in from 5 pm to 8 pm, Thursday through Saturday, at the dock adjacent to Our Market. For more information, go to

Norton Point reopened, with caution

Chris Kennedy, The Trustees of Reservations Island superintendent, said that all of Norton Point beach has been opened for vehicle access. The barrier beach, which stretches out from Chappaquiddick and Katama, is a prime fishing spot.

“The last four plover chicks disappeared and we assume they were predated,” Chris said in an email. “We did fledge several hundred least tern chicks over the past few weeks and the last of those chicks have started flying.”

Chris said there is a large area cordoned off on the bayside where several hundred terns, plovers, and other shorebirds are fattening up on the Katama Bay flats in preparation for their flight south over the next few weeks.

“We would like to remind folks that while they can now access the breach from Norton Point, there is no swimming in the breach,” Chris said.